Review: Betting on Texas by Amanda Renee


Title: Betting on Texas

Author:  Amanda Renee

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

More Than The Ranch At Stake  When Miranda Archer bought Double Trouble Ranch, sight unseen, she was eager to leave city life behind and start fresh in the Texas Hill Country. But the property came with some unexpected extras: a few cattle, a couple of horses…and one surly cowboy.

From the minute Jesse Langtry first laid eyes on Miranda, she captured his heart. Beautiful and determined, Miranda is everything Jesse wants in a woman. There’s just one little hitch. Jesse’s dream girl just stole his ranch!

Sure that rural life will be too much for Miranda, Jesse bets her that she won’t last a month at Double Trouble. If he wins, she’ll sell him the land—if she wins, he’ll leave for good. Pushing each other away seems to bring them closer—and that’s where the real trouble begins!


Once again, I am drawn to a cowboy book.  Betting on Texas by Amanda Renee even has horses.  Bonus!  Surly Jesse is a horse trainer, and they are actually featured predominately in the story.  Yeah!  Unfortunately, Jesse knowingly puts Miranda in some hazardous situations, which did make me think less of him.  A horse trainer of all people should know better to put a horse and a human at risk like that. 

Miranda Archer is embarking on a new life.  Having won the state lottery, she purchases a ranch in Texas, loads up her meager belongings in her brand new pickup truck, and heads for greener pastures.  What she finds isn’t exactly the solitary haven she’s expecting.  Instead, she discovers that she also owns several horses, a small herd of cattle, and some chickens in addition to the farm house and acreage.  Oh, yeah, and there’s that angry, angry cowboy, Jesse Langtry, in residence, too.  Jesse has sacrificed the better part of the last 15 years  working on the ranch, training sought after cutting horses and managing the property for the former owners.  They had a hand shake agreement that Jesse would buy the ranch when they were ready to retire.  Unfortunately, the older couple is tragically killed in an accident, and the ranch is placed on the auction block by.  Jesse is outbid by Miranda, and he is pissed!  How could this rich, city-slicker from DC just stroll into town and take away his  dream?

I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, but the story didn’t gel for me.  The adversarial relationship between Jesse and Miranda turned me off.  Jesse completely and unfairly misjudges Miranda, which makes him hard to like.  They are constantly bickering about the ranch, which is legally Miranda’s, and Jesse blames her for buying it from under him.  He is so bitter that I just couldn’t buy into their relationship.  He puts her at risk several times with the horses, and I couldn’t get over that.  Horses are large animals, and when handled by inexperienced people, they can be dangerous.  Heck, they can be dangerous when you know what you’re doing!  To leave her to load a horse onto a trailer after getting mad at her; I just can’t imagine a professional horseman doing something risky like that.  After getting dumped off of my mare the same day I read a majority of the book, for no other reason than she was feeling frisky, I know how quickly things can go wrong with horses.  This probably won’t be a major sticking point for most, but it was for me.

I did like Miranda.  She put up with Jesse’s sullen behavior and tried not to let it bother her.  She met his dismissive treatment of her head on.  She didn’t let him alter her plans to have the home she had always dreamed of.  When life bit her in the behind, she quickly made adjustments to ensure that the animals and the people who were now depending on her were taken care of.  Her initial poor reception in town was entirely due to Jesse spreading false rumors about her and her plans for the ranch, and she acted forcefully to try to counteract the gossip he had spread about her.  Even though he did this before he met her, it’s hard to forgive a guy who would try to sabotage a complete stranger like that.

To settle things between them, Miranda and Jesse make a bet, and the winner ends up with the ranch.  Because of Jesse’s determination to win the bet and get his dreams back on track, it was hard to buy into his sincerity when his feelings for Miranda started to change.  I wasn’t sure if he really did like her, or if gaining control of the ranch was playing into his change of heart.  In fact, it wasn’t until the last two chapters that I even started to like him. 

Betting on Texas was a mixed bag for me, and I blame the confrontational relationship established early in the story for my tepid respond to Jesse.  It was hard to look beyond Jesse’s desire to own the ranch, and his less than chivalrous behavior rankled at times.  Even though Betting on Texas didn’t work for me,  I am looking forward to getting to know Jesse’s brothers better in Home To The Cowboy, the next book in the series. 

Grade: B-/C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Amanda Renee, Author of Betting on Texas

Amanda Renee dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her debut novel, Betting on Texas.  Please give her a warm welcome.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Amanda Renee] Risk taking, no holds barred author who believes dreams really do come true if you work hard for them! No regrets, no apologies. Just do it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Betting on Texas?

[Amanda Renee] Miranda Archer buys the Double Trouble Ranch sight unseen at the urging of her best friend and unwilling upends Jesse Langtry and his plans for the ranch.  Believing he can chase the city girl back where she came from, he bets she won’t make it one month working on the ranch like everyone else.  If she wins, he goes away quietly, if he wins, she sells him the ranch.  It’s a 30 day battle of wits and determination.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Amanda Renee] Miranda and Jesse live in my dream town.  The characters throughout Betting on Texas are the people I would want for neighbors, but that’s not to say there aren’t a few bad eggs in the bunch.  Life in Ramblewood, Texas is far from perfect. I love the down home atmosphere of ranch life.  It’s hard work, but at the end of the day, you have something tangible to show for it.  Jesse and Miranda never fear the unknown.  Nothing is ever impossible to them and that’s my favorite quality in a person.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Miranda?

[Amanda Renee] Determined, Spunky, Competitive

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jesse had a theme song, what would it be?

[Amanda Renee] All We Ever Find by Tim McGraw – sums up his feelings for Miranda perfectly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Miranda is never without.

[Amanda Renee] Her determination! It’s all she needs to get through life.  She never considers giving up on anything, regardless of what it is. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jesse’s bedroom?

[Amanda Renee] Sex Toys (he’s good to go on his own), frou-frou (he keeps things simple), television (if you’re in his bedroom, you’re there for a reason and it isn’t to watch I Love Lucy reruns)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Miranda’s greatest regret?

[Amanda Renee] Her relationship with her deceased alcoholic mother.  Miranda always wonders if she could have done more to save her from herself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Amanda Renee] Edward Lear – For his whimsical style of writing and brilliant artistry

Sandra Brown – I aspire to one day reach her level of greatness

Antonio Vivaldi – His compositions inspire greatness

Jonathan Firth – For the emotional depth of every character he portrays

Dave Sabo of Skid Row – His musical creativity blows me away every time

My Grandpa Joe – There was nothing he wasn’t willing to try

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Amanda Renee] Quiet (I’m easily distracted), my netbook (all 1st drafts are written on my netbook so I can easily take it anywhere and the battery lasts the entire day), my dog Smile

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Amanda Renee] Triggerfish Twist by Tim Dorsey – I howled all the way through it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Amanda Renee] Wow!  I’ve read since I was 3 years old. I come from a family of bookworms.  Dr Seuss started it all – Green Eggs and Ham!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Amanda Renee] I hate to sound cliché but long walks on the beach with my dog, motoring in my Mini Cooper, spending time with family & friends, anything on the water and anytime I can work with animals, I’m happy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Amanda Renee] My website:



Snail Mail: Amanda Renee, PO Box 3251, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

Thank you!  It’s been a pleasure speaking with you!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can purchase Betting on Texas from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

More Than The Ranch At Stake

When Miranda Archer bought Double Trouble Ranch, sight unseen, she was eager to leave city life behind and start fresh in the Texas Hill Country. But the property came with some unexpected extras: a few cattle, a couple of horses…and one surly cowboy.

From the minute Jesse Langtry first laid eyes on Miranda, she captured his heart. Beautiful and determined, Miranda is everything Jesse wants in a woman. There’s just one little hitch. Jesse’s dream girl just stole his ranch!

Sure that rural life will be too much for Miranda, Jesse bets her that she won’t last a month at Double Trouble. If he wins, she’ll sell him the land—if she wins, he’ll leave for good. Pushing each other away seems to bring them closer—and that’s where the real trouble begins!

About the Author:

Born and raised in the northeast, Amanda Renee currently resides on the Intracoastal Waterway in sunny South Carolina. She was discovered through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest and began writing for the American Romance line. When not creating stories about love, laughter and things that go bump in the night, she enjoys the company of her Schnoodle named Duffy, traveling, photography, playing guitar and anything involving horses. You can visit her at

Add Amanda’s books to your shopping list!




Excerpt: Wyoming Bride by Joan Johnston

I am back from Disney World, trying to recover from a week long vacation from work and a cold.  Dean and I have dubbed WDW the germiest place on earth, because we always get sick there.  I even got a flu shot this year!  Please enjoy this Romance @ Random excerpt of Wyoming Bride by Joan Johnston while I recharge and attempt to get back on track with the blog posts.


WYOMING BRIDE by Joan Johnston, Excerpt

About the book:

The sensational second novel in Joan Johnston’s new Western historical romance series set in the world of Bitter Creek.


After three months in a mail-order marriage, Hannah Wentworth McMurtry is a widow—pregnant, alone, and near death in the Wyoming wilderness. Though she is saved by a man with a face cut from stone, she still grieves the husband who died on their journey west. Hannah needs a husband, but does she dare marry another stranger?

Flint Creed has also lost someone he loved—when the woman he hoped to marry chose his younger brother instead. Now he must find a ranch wife of his own. But every female in the remote Wyoming Territory is too old, too young, or already married . . . until he discovers Hannah on the prairie. Flint doesn’t pretend to love her, but he doesn’t tell her he loves another woman, either. Hannah doesn’t pretend to love him, but she doesn’t tell him about the child she carries. Though danger surrounds them on the Wyoming frontier, the greatest threats of all are the secrets within—revelations that could destroy the new life Hannah and Flint have begun to cherish.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, follow the links below to purchase a copy.

Excerpt: Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

Here’s another excerpt from Random House.  This time, it’s for their upcoming release by Linda Howard and Linda Jones, Running Wild, which I am looking forward to.  If you enjoy the excerpt, you can pre-order using the links below.

RUNNING WILD by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

About the book:

In book 1 of this steamy new contemporary Western romance series by two blockbuster authors, a cowboy and a woman on the run take a stand and fight for love.

Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.

Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.

You can pre-order below:

Interview with Roxanne Snopek, Author of Three River Ranch and Giveaway!

Roxanne Snopek is celebrating the release of her new book, Three River Ranch.  Please welcome her to the virtual offices today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Roxanne Snopek] Artistic, driven, solitary, peacekeeper, INFP + a dash of OCD & ADHD. Also, Scorpio Sun/Moon/Mercury/Neptune, so stand back when I get mad.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Three River Ranch?

[Roxanne Snopek] It’s a romance for people who don’t like reading romance! At least, that’s what reviewers are saying. It’s the story of two ordinary people with good but wounded hearts, who want to save the world and end up rescuing each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Roxanne Snopek]  I love cowboys, so Carson was just a natural character to write. But instead of a traditional riding-the-range kind of guy, I made him a conservationist with a passion for saving the wild mustangs. The setting and world of Three River Ranch came alive for me as soon as I had this tiny bit, and the rest sort of evolved… a bit like a photo coming into focus.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rory?

[Roxanne Snopek] Authentic. Resilient. Selfless.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Carson would never have in his bathroom?

[Roxanne Snopek] Hm. Great question. He doesn’t buy aerosols. He doesn’t use products that have been tested on animals. Also, no harsh cleaning products! He’s a baking-soda-and-vinegar kind of guy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Carson had a theme song, what would it be?

[Roxanne Snopek]  “Born to be Wild”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Rory’s most prized possession?

[Roxanne Snopek]  Well, she loves her dog, Mistral, although she argues vehemently that animals are companions, not “possessions.” So, as far as inanimate objects, she has a crimson wrap that she wears to go out with Carson. The rich color and fabric are flattering, even for a pregnant woman!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Roxanne Snopek]  Naturally, I’m a voracious reader and have been all my life. So books and writers, probably. There’s a book by the late Madeleine L’Engle called “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” that touched me deeply about a decade ago. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is just great, even for non-writers. Barbara Kingsolver’s “Poisonwood Bible” is the kind of book that, in my ideal life, I’d have the skill and wisdom and heart and maturity to write.

Then, of course, there’s Allie Brosh and her blog Hyperbole and a Half. Probably the funniest stuff I’ve ever read. A true outside-the-box thinker, a hilarious writer and artist. Go there. You won’t be sorry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Roxanne Snopek] Quiet. A non-sticky floor. Matrimonial cake. (I always order this if I’m in a coffee shop, but no one makes it like my mom…. dates…. oatmeal….mmm.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Roxanne Snopek] I just finished “Don’t Say a Word” by Barbara Freethy and it was great! Suspenseful, fast-paced, great mix of romance and thriller.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Roxanne Snopek]  “Hurry Home Candy” by Meindert DeJong and “Jennie” by Paul Gallico. Both are stories of animals lost and in need of rescuing, which explains one aspect of my writing. And both end well, which explains the romance, I suppose. I don’t mind crying in a book, but I cannot bear unhappy endings. Oops. You said one book. Oh well…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Roxanne Snopek]  I love to play in the dirt, making stuff grow if I can, pruning it or digging it out if I can’t. I like hiking through crunchy leaves with my dogs. I dabble in painting from time to time – big, splashy canvases that I stencil quotes on. I enjoy baking, but my doctor says I have to lay off starches, dang it. Also, I love to watch TV (can I admit that??) Right now I’m totally into The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Castle and am about to start watching Sons of Anarchy. I was a staunch ER fan before it ended, and St. Elsewhere before that. I LOVED Firefly. Big Bang Theory cracks me up and I still happen onto the occasional Friends episode I haven’t seen.

Oh, and I *love* Bikram yoga. Yoga of all kinds, really, but something about the heat really works for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Roxanne Snopek]

Facebook: RoxanneSnopekAuthor

Twitter: @RoxanneSnopek


[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


Ready for your chance to win a digital copy of Three River Ranch? Just fill out the widget to enter.  Earn extra entries for following.  Open Internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can order Three River Ranch from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.


More about the book:

Needing a fresh start from her two-timing fiancé, Aurora McAllister answers a realtor’s ad for a guesthouse on the beautiful, serene Three River Ranch. She shows up at Three River tired, heartbroken, and with no one but her trusty Labradoodle as a companion.

Cowboy Carson Granger has enough trouble in his life without adding a woman and her dog to the mix. There’s the untamed mustang he’s prepping to release into the wild, not to mention his father’s crazy will, which stipulates that if Carson wants to fully inherit Three River, he’ll need to find a bride. Carson wants nothing to do with love and especially not a marriage of convenience. But he soon realizes Rory, and everything she represents, might just be exactly what he needs.

Sometimes love arrives on your doorstep when you least expect it…

More about the author:

Roxanne Willems Snopek is an award-winning freelance writer of everything from corporate newsletters to personal essays. Author of the Amazing Stories series of true life animal adventures, she now focuses on fiction. Snopek grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in British Columbia.

Cheap eReads! Romance Roundup!

Here are some digital romance titles for your Kindle or Kindle app priced at less than 5 bucks each!

Matthew: The Circle Eight  by Emma Lang ($3.99)

A man learns to hold what is his

It is a vast spread in the eastern wilds of the newly independent Republic of Texas, the ranch their parents fought for … and died for. To the eight Graham siblings, no matter how much hard work or hard love it takes, life is unthinkable without family…

In the wake of his parents’ murder, Matthew Graham must take the reins at the Circle Eight. He also needs to find a wife in just thirty days, or risk losing it all. Plain but practical, Hannah Foley seems the perfect bride for him . . . until after the wedding night.

Their marriage may make all the sense in the world, but neither one anticipates the jealousies that will result, the treacherous danger they’re walking into, or the wildfire of attraction that will sweep over them, changing their lives forever.

Sugar Rush (Cupcake Club) by Konna Kauffman ($3.99)

When baker extraordinaire Leilani Trusdale leaves New York City for Georgia’s sleepy Sugarberry Island, her past follows in the form of her former boss, Baxter Dunne. Baxter, otherwise known as Chef Hot Cakes, wants to film his hit cooking show in her tiny cupcakery. Last time they worked together, Baxter’s molten chocolate brown eyes and sexy British accent made Lani’s mouth water and her cheeks blush the colour of raspberry filling…Lani’s friends are convinced that this time around, Baxter is the missing ingredient in her recipe for happiness. But convincing Lani will be a job for Baxter himself. And he’ll need more than black velvet frosting to sweeten the deal…

Scandal Becomes Her by Shirlee Busbee ($1.99)


Nell Anslowe and Julian, Earl of Wyndham, are an unlikely couple in every respect. Injured in a riding accident ten years ago, Nell was left with a fiance who abandoned their engagement, a slight limp, terrifying nightmares, and the firm belief that she will never marry. The abrupt end of Julian’s unhappy marriage formed his resolve to remain a bachelor until the end of his days. But as Julian chases down his reckless stepsister, he seeks shelter from a summer storm in a cottage–and finds it occupied by Nell, who has escaped from a fortune-seeking libertine bent on carrying her off to Gretna Green. Discovered together by Nell’s family, the couple’s hasty wedding is the only way to save Nell from scandal–but the polite union each of them expects blossoms into something much more powerful…

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer ($2.99)

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

Review: The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer



Title:  The Cowboy Comes Home

Author: Patricia Thayer

Publisher:  Harlequin

Bk 1 in the Larkville Legacy Series

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Single mom Jess Calhoun had learned the hard way not to trust a man in a Stetson; her young son’s dad was long gone. But that doesn’t stop Jess from noticing good-lookin’, sweet-talkin’ cowboy Johnny Jameson swagger into town. He’s as wild and untamed as the stallions he trains.

The attraction between them is as fiery as a Texan summer and Johnny finds himself questioning whether he could finally put down roots—in Larkville, a place where two very special people have taken hold of his heart.


When I finished The Cowboy Comes Home, the only thing I could think was “Darn you, Harlequin!!”  Why?  It’s the first book in the Larkville Legacy series, and being anal about reading series, I now want to read the rest of the books.  When I decided to read this title, I was not aware that it is part of a series; instead, I saw the happy family enjoying a trail ride together and I just had to read it.  The hero is a horse trainer (wait, didn’t I just read a HQ Blaze about a horse trainer?!), and the heroine has a shop that sells baked goods (wait! Didn’t that same HQ Blaze feature a heroine who is a cook?).  Despite these similarities, the books are nothing alike.

Jess is a single mom, and she is still grieving the death of her father, a wealthy rancher.  Her brothers and sister are off doing their own thing, so she is temporarily in charge of the Double Bar C, even though she doesn’t want to run the ranch.  She has a business of her own to fret about, and having a young son keeps her on her toes.  When Johnny Jameson swaggers to town, she’s a bit dismayed.  She is instantly attracted to this sexy cowboy, and her son, Brady, takes a shine to him too.  After having her heartbroken and being left pregnant by her ex boyfriend, she has sworn off of cowboys.  They never stay in one place for long, and she knows that once Johnny finishes training Storm, the horse her father had so many hopes pinned on, he’ll be gone too.  Johnny’s motto is that all he needs is his truck, trailer, and his horse, and he’s a happy guy.  He moves from one training job to the next, never staying in one place for longer than he has to.  Once he’s finished training, he’s gone, and he doesn’t see that ever changing.

I found Johnny an interesting character because he is carrying around so much baggage.  It’s a good thing he has that horse trailer, because he needs the extra room to drag his unhappy past around with him.  He never knew his father, and his efforts to track him down yielded nothing.  The older man wanted nothing to do with his son, and every lead Johnny followed to find him ended in a dead end.  His mother wandered from town to town, never staying in one place for long.  When she settled down with a man who beat her, Johnny had had enough.  He packed his meager belongings and hit the road at 14 and never returned.  The kindness of an old horse trainer gave him the skills he needed to feed himself, and he has made a name for himself because of his gift with horses.

Jess is reluctant to give in to her attraction for Johnny, and with a young child to care for, her reluctance made perfect sense.  Brady misses his grandfather terribly, and with her brothers gone, there are no other men in Brady’s life.  When he sets aside his fear of horses and asks Johnny to teach him how to ride, Jess realizes how much her son needs a stable man in his life, which makes her even more wary of her feelings for Johnny.  He is a sexy, charming guy, though, and soon both of them are in over their heads, and while Jess has accepted that he won’t be there for long, the reality of him packing up and high-tailing it out of town tears both her and Brady into pieces.   Dumb cowboy!  You promised to help the kid with his mutton bustin’!  So much for the cowboy code!

I enjoyed this very quick read and found the resolution very satisfying.  The last chapter was perfect, in fact, and had me convinced that Jess, Johnny, and Brady will all have a HEA.  Now, let me get back to the darn you, Harlequin bit.  The epilogue came out of nowhere for me, because I don’t really pay attention to plot descriptions, and I don’t find that Harlequin communicates effectively when they introduce most of their series.  They just put a little graphic on the cover, which I don’t always see because I read all of their titles digitally.  The covers are all pretty generic, and I don’t pay much attention to them (unless there is a horse on the cover, which guarantees that I will add it to my wish list) .  So when I read the epilogue, and it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I was compelled to immediately purchase Slow Dance with the Sheriff, even though I won’t be able to read it for a while.  So, I guess Harlequin’s devious plan to make me purchase more of their books worked – AGAIN! I especially enjoy their series that span several months and have several authors contributing titles to the continuity.  I am thinking of tackling The Harts of the Rodeo, too, which is being released under the Harlequin American Romance line.  Have you read any multi-author series?  Would you recommend any?

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month.  I plan to read at least through October, because I am familiar with the authors.   

The Cowboy Comes  Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY

Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST

Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER

The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER

His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER

The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER

The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY

The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY

Here are all of the covers -

Lark Ville Legacy

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Review: Lead Me Home by Vicki Lewis Thompson


Title: Lead Me Home

Author:  Vicki Lewis Thompson

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Thanks to his skills with difficult horses, trainer Matthew Tredway has traveled all over the world. And his new gig? The Last Chance Ranch. But after a chance glance at the ranch’s hot little blond cook, Matthew’s libido is immediately set to sizzle!

Chef Aurelia Smith has been trying to tempt the ranch hands with mouth-watering concoctions, with less-than-stellar results. But when Matthew is sent in to intervene, his attraction to Aurelia boils over.

Before long, they’re cooking up a storm, in and out of the bedroom. But Aurelia knows that while she might have led her horseman to bed, she can’t make him stay….


Whenever I get into a reading slump, I find myself reaching for a Harlequin category romance.  I don’t know why, but these things always seem to get me back on a reading track.  Maybe because of the formula, and because I know that despite all adversity, the protagonists will find a way to get together.  I’m not suggesting that they are all 5 star reads, but I find a great deal of comfort in the formula.  I have only read a few titles under the Blaze imprint, and so far, they have been quick, satisfying reads, so I  gravitated to one of these.

I picked Lead Me Home to load on my Kindle because of one thing:  the hero is a horse trainer.  I am always a sucker for a book with horses.  I am also extremely critical of stories featuring horses, because there are certain ways we do things at the barn, and then there’s the way everyone else does things.  Usually, it is in sync with how I expect horse care and horse training to be described.  Sometimes it is not.  With the exception of young Lester’s “natural” riding abilities, and the abbreviated time spent training Houdini, the unruly stallion, I didn’t have much to complain about with the horse scenes.  I would like Lester to come and show me how to canter on a runaway horse, because I am having a heck of time cantering on one of my mares.  Of course, Lester was helped out by a jerk throwing a rock, so maybe under different circumstances, he would have a problem, too.

Anyhoo, getting back to the book, Matthew is a huge guy, 6’5” and solidly built.  He is a muscle machine.  I am assuming that he’s training quarter horses, and my only other nitpick is that he is a big guy.  Quarter horses aren’t huge horses(well, except for their rear ends).  I am thinking that he looked pretty silly on Houdini, unless the stud was built like a brick sh!thouse, too.  I know how ridiculous my trainer looks on one of my mares, and she isn’t a small horse.  Oh! I am wandering off track again! Sorry!  Let’s try again!

Matthew is a famous horse trainer, probably along the lines of Clinton Anderson.  He is a published author, and everyone recognizes that he is a horse training expert.  He jets all about the world, working his equine mojo.  He also feels detached from people, and has no real committed relationships.  Both of his parents have passed away; his mother when he was a young child, and his father just a few years ago.  His father was so devastated by his mother’s death that he was an emotionally distant care-giver.  Matthew found completion training horses, and his training gifts have made him wealthy.

Aurelia, on the other hand, works at a bank.  She is very satisfied with her job, but she has taken an extended vacation to fill in for her aunt, who is off on her honeymoon.  Aurelia is working at Last Chance Ranch as the cook, and she is having a blast tormenting the ranch-hands with her gourmet cooking.  While she is a wonderful cook, the cowboys don’t like the weird things she is trying to feed them.  I loved this – Aurelia is trying to expose them to new food, and they just want to run for cover.  They are afraid of her food!  They think it is gross and inedible.  They sneak it out of the kitchen and feed it to the dogs.  They can’t even pronounce the names of these new dishes; how can they possibly eat this stuff??

Poor Matthew is immediately asked by the cowboys to set Aurelia straight and to save them from her goofy food.  She is just too nice for them to tell her how they really feel, so they are going to throw Matthew under the bus and make him to do.  He wants to taste her food for himself, because during his travels, he has learned to love food.  He isn’t afraid of new things!  I felt an instant bond with Matthew – any guy who has an open mind about food is all right with me.  Thankfully, I found a guy who enjoys food, too.  He even eats the gross stuff that Aurelia’s cowboys balked at – livers and yucky stuff like that.  Give me  tender goat that has been simmered in a curry sauce and I’ll be your friend forever.  The organ meats, though, that is another matter altogether.

Matthew and Aurelia hit it off right away.  It’s lust at first sight, and Matthew has the added bonus of yummy home cooking.  Their steamy affair is moving along full steam ahead, both of them acknowledging that this is just a short time, no strings attached romp.  Until they both get in over their heads.  Then Matthew makes a wonderful suggestion to Aurelia, as way to keep them together, but she rejects the idea, without even thinking about it.  And that is what irritated me about Aurelia.  She is so adventurous about about everything else,  but when the guy who seems to be the love of her life suggests as plausible way for them to be together, she shuts down and shoots him down.  Maybe he didn’t go about bringing up the topic in the right way, but, heck, he’s a horse trainer! What does he know about women!  Just kidding.

Lead Me Home is a quick, entertaining read.  It’s obvious that it’s part of a series, and I liked the characters enough that I will scrounge up more books in it.  This isn’t a perfect read, but it was engaging, the protagonists weren’t jerks, and it got me out of my reading slump.

Grade: B/B-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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